Price paid: $ 1699
Purchased from: Musician's Friend/Guitar Center
Sound — 9
I play through a number of guitars including: a Gibson SG with an Angus Young signature pickup in the bridge position, a Jackson DKMG with active EMG 81-85's and a turbo charger, a Dean Dime-O-Flame with a Dimebucker in the bridge position, an Ibanez 7-string, and a Highway 1 American Stratocaster. One thing I noticed about this amp is that it brings out subtle nuances in every guitar played through it that make it truly sound unique. Before I had this amp I played through a Peavey Valve-king and a DigiTech Metal Master pedal and every guitar sounded a little bland in comparison. The clean channel is interesting in that it is really chimey and bright (kind of like a Fender Twin), but it breaks up a little. It gives a good Texas-Blues kind of sound. The dirty channel is really where this amp shines. I can turn the gain up to about 5 (12 o'clock) and it gives the perfect amount of saturation for classic rock a la The Who, Led Zeppelin, etc. Turn the gain knob to about 7 or 8 (around 3 o'clock) and that puts the gain into the metal range. What's truly amazing about this amp is the kinds of gain/distortion you can get through the different relationships of the Gain master knob and the overall master volume knob. For example, if the gain is at about 8 and you put the Gain master at about 1 to 2 and the overall master at 5 you get a very crunchy sounding gain. However, the more you turn the gain master up the more fullness and bassiness is added. On top of this you have a sweep control with adds more power to the bass/mids/treble section depending on what you have it turned to. Another great feature is the active effects loop. I run my modulation effects it as well as my Boss 7-band graphic Equalizer. I use the equalizer to get my metal tone and the boost knob really helps the tone really cut through and mix better with the distortion. Because of this I can get any number of different sounds and can adjust every little detail of my sound as I please. The only problem with this is that it is a little overwhelming at first but the more you use the amp the better it sounds. I gave the sound an 8 because the clean channel is a little lacking and while the dirty channel is amazing it could always be better.
Overall Impression — 8
I play anything from Blues to Rock to Metal and Death Metal. I can get any sound I want from this amp that I can think of and am very pleased with it. I've been playing for about 9 years and this is by far the best amp I've played through. I also have a Fender Twin (Red Knobs version), and a Line 6 Flextone III. The pedals I play through on my SKB pedal board are: MXR Noise Gate, MXR EVH Phase 90, Ibanez Tube Screamer reissue, a DOD Flanger, a Boss Phase Shifter, a DigiTech Whammy, a Boss Digidelay DD-7, and an Ibanez Weeping Demon Wah. I chose this amp because I was tired of getting my distortion from a pedal and I wanted an amp that could go beyond my expectations in terms of gain, tone, and volume. Another reason I chose this amp is because it was endorsed by Dimebag himself (his picture is on it, pretty cool...but anyway) and I had heard it in use while watching Metalocalypse. If it was stolen I would definitely get another one. The only things I wish it had were extra foot-switchable options beside just the channel and master switches. Overall, if you want an amp that is easy to operate, can dish out more than enough brutal distortion, and has great tone shaping features this amp is for you.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I've had this amp for about 5 or 6 months now and this amp seems very durable. I have traveled with it many times and it has never broken. However I can't really comment on this too much as I have never gigged with it. I would imagine that it can stand extensive gigging but I would buy an amp cover/carry case just in case. I gave it an 8 because of this.
Features — 7
This is the updated version of the original Krankenstein tube head. It is 120 Watts and has an upgraded 6550 power section. It has two channels (Clean and Dirty) with a dedicated master volume knob, a master presence knob and an active effects loop. The dirty channel has 2 Master volumes that are foot-switchable. It also has a sweep control knob on the dirty channel which gives more equalization control. It comes with a foot switch. I have this head matched with a Marshall 1960 4x12 cabinet. I gave it an 7 in features because it would be nice if the effects loop was switchable and it also doesn't have reverb.